Those who wish to take up the Rule of Awen and follow the path of the Hermitage of the Heart must fulfill certain requirements. Acceptance, reception, ordination, and consecration in the GCC is limited to members of AODA, and depends in part on the fulfillment of the requirements of the AODA study program. It is not a replacement for AODA’s system of Druid training, but a supplement and an intensification of that training.
There is no requirement for members of the GCC to pass through all three of the holy orders. A member of AODA who wishes to pursue a way of nature spirituality in the deeper and more personal form offered by the GCC may choose to be received as a deacon but proceed no further, or may choose to do the necessary work and be ordained as a priest or priestess and proceed no further, or may in due time be consecrated as a bishop. The requirements for each of these stages are listed below.
Requirements for Novitiates
The order of novitiate is an introductory stage for those who wish to be considered as members of the GCC clergy and is available to AODA members at any level of the curriculum. Every member who applies to the GCC starts out as a novitiate. Members at the Apprentice level and higher will usually move into the diaconate quite quickly if appropriate.
Members of the AODA who desire acceptance as a novitiate may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Performance of the Candidate Initiation;
- Submitting to the GCC preceptor a letter of intention requesting admission into the GCC Clergy, accompanied by a Spiritual Autobiography detailing their religious/spiritual history (history of their spiritual path; relationship to the Divine, however that is experienced;; and current spiritual practices);
- Brief personal interview with GCC preceptor.
Requirements for Deacons
The order of deacon is the next stage for those who wish to proceed to the priesthood or priestesshood. It may also provide a framework for those who wish to work with some of the spiritual disciplines of the GCC, but do not wish to practice the Communion ceremony on a regular basis.
Members of AODA who desire reception as a deacon may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Initiation into the First Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Apprentice);
- Completion of the workbook “My Deepest Me: a 30-Day Guided Journey,” by Janice Lynne Lundy and submitting a write-up (instructions given after acceptance as a novitiate) detailing the work done.
- Performance of a vigil of at least six uninterrupted hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path forward;
- Submitting to the GCC preceptor a detailed account of the vigil and its results, along with a letter of intent requesting reception as a deacon;
- Completion of a process of reflection and conversation that explores, in detail, why the applicant wishes to become a deacon in the GCC, and what goals he or she wishes to pursue through this work.
Reception as a deacon can be received in person from a GCC bishop, but it is usually conferred at a distance by means of a specific ritual formula in which a suitable token is blessed by a bishop and returned to the candidate for reception.
Requirements for Priestesses and Priests
The order of priest or priestess is the working heart of the GCC. It requires the priest or priestess to perform the GCC Communion Ceremony as a regular personal devotion.
While the primary commitment has historically been to personal spiritual practice and following the Rule of Awen, priests and priestesses may also, with additional discernment, guidance and further training completed outside the GCC if necessary, pursue a path of “service”. Examples of service include , engaging in work with a community of Druids, officiating at the celebration of rites of passage, prison or military ministry, providing spiritual guidance to other GCC clergy, assisting within the GCC or other spiritual work in service to others .
Another option for deacons ready to further their training is a new, deeply contemplative Monastic path, still being developed. This path will run parallel to the Priest/Priestess path and will be open to both deacons who wish to pursue it instead of the priesthood as well as to those previously ordained as Priests or consecrated as Bishops. For more information please write to the preceptor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any member of AODA who desires ordination as a priest or priestess may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Initiation into the Second Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Companion);
- Previous ordination as a deacon in the GCC;
- Close study and brief contemplative write up of four books in addition to the seven books required for the Second Degree core curriculum. Clergy are not expected to agree with everything in these books, but are expected to read them with an open mind and be able to discuss what they do or do not agree with and/or like about the books. The books are as follows:
- “The Gnostic Celtic Church: A Manual and Book of Liturgy,” edited by John Michael Greer. This book is a bit out of date as far as the clergy curriculum; but remains our fundamental text.;
- “The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Tradition,” by John Plummer;
- “Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path,” by Mariana Caplan, PhD.;
- “Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way,” by Nancy L. Bieber;
- Creation of a home altar and daily practice of morning prayer and evening lection;
- Regular and thorough practice of the AODA solitary Grove ritual, Sphere of Protection ritual, and Communion Ceremony;
- Ongoing process of mentoring and discernment, to assist the future priest or priestess in developing a personal vocation and priestly practice;
- If choosing to pursue the Service path, a proposal detailing the kind of service, the training required, and how they will acquire that training.;
- Performance of a vigil of at least 12 uninterrupted hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path toward ordination into the priestly order.
Ordination as a Priest or Priestess must be received in person from a GCC Bishop; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance. However, since AODA is an international order, it may at times be necessary to re-evaluate this limitation and work with alternatives to “in person” ordination. No clergy member will be denied the ability to advance within the GCC simply because of a disability or physical distance.
Requirements for Bishops
The order of bishop comprises those participants in the GCC who pursue their vocation to the point of embodying the entire GCC and AODA tradition in their own lives. It is not a springboard from which to pursue some other religious direction. It is specific to those who have found their spiritual home in the GCC and AODA and wish to assist others in the work of the church and the order. Therefore, the ability to confer reception, ordination, and consecration into the holy orders of the GCC is reserved to bishops. Any member of AODA who desires consecration as a bishop may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Initiation into the Third Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Adept);
- Previous ordination as a priest or priestess in the GCC;
- Design and completion of an extensive course of personal study, building on the foundations of the study program assigned for priests and priestesses in the GCC, which must be approved by the preceptor of the GCC in advance;
- Development of a continuing and intensive personal spiritual practice as an expression of priestly vocation, and the composition of a detailed written account of this practice;
- A further process of mentoring and discernment to help the future bishop enrich his or her personal vocation and priestly practice;
- and a final vote of approval for consecration by the Grand Grove.
Consecration as a bishop must be received in person from at least one, and preferably three, GCC bishops; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance. It will normally be preceded by an extended vigil.